Tech diversity and social justice

Image: Social Justice Fund Northwest Portland Giving Project members, 2015

I passionately believe that diversity in tech will not be a sustainable reality unless we change the underlying power structures of our society. In particular, I believe we must confront the racism, sexism, and economic oppression that reinforce the power of white men in our society and in the tech sector. I also passionately believe that altering these underlying forces will benefit everyone. (Yes, including white men.) All of us have a personal stake in this change.

Related to AlterConf 2016


Here is a link to my slides. Sources used in the presentation are cited in the slide notes, if not on the slide itself.

Next Steps & Resources

1. Find organizations to give to

Find an organization working on structural change whose mission and approach resonates with you. One way of thinking about structural change: does this work impact people who were not directly involved? An example of funding structural change would be giving money to change how Oregon funds its public schools, rather than donating to one school directly.

Social Justice Fund Northwest (SJF) is a member-driven foundation that I deeply trust. They work with advocacy and community-building organizations that often get passed over by larger foundations. Check out this list of past SJF grantees to get some ideas of the nonprofits doing great work in the Northwest (or become a member of SJF too)!

2. Make a giving plan

A giving plan is a way to build giving into your budget. If you already give to various organizations, ask yourself if structural change and racial justice are reflected in your giving.

Resource Generation (RG) helps young people with wealth and/or class privilege become empowered leaders in the movement to redistribute wealth, land and power. Their website has some free online resources.

The Portland Resource Generation chapter has a discussion group starting in January 2017 to discuss racial justice, class privilege, and how to leverage privilege for social change. Get in touch ASAP if you’d be interested in joining us.

3. Give

Giving a meaningful amount of money means something different to every person. To one person it might be $5 a month, and to someone else it might be $500. Whatever meaningful means to you, I hope you’ll give it. It all adds up to our collective power.

How To Give Boldly From Earned Income is a great blog post written by Ellie Poley, a tech worker, about her philosophy and process for giving away money.

Some other thoughts

Leverage corporate matching or direct donations

Many companies offer to match donations made by employees, or may allow direct donations from a paycheck (to enable pre-tax giving). Find out if your company offers either of these benefits, and if not, find out if there’s a plan to put these in place. It might help to collect some information from your coworkers about the desirability of this benefit.

For more information about corporate matching gifts: